“Janet”: a retrospective review of Janet Jackson’s 1993 eponymous album.
by Mark Keen
Janet would spend her time well between “Rhythm Nation 1814” and 1993’s “Janet”. She scored her biggest hit at the time in the UK with the 1992 duet with Luther Vandross (et al) on “The Best Things In Life Are Free”. Despite not appearing in the video and little promotion this duet from the ‘Mo’ Money’ soundtrack proved to be a huge hit reaching number 2 in the UK, and hitting the top ten in the US and internationally. The single proved so popular in the UK a remixed version hit the top ten again in 1996 as part of the “Design Of A Decade” campaign. Janet would also spend the time filming her first feature film ‘Poetic Justice’.
Janet’s fifth album (and her first with Virgin) the eponymously named “Janet” would follow in 1993 and was her biggest success yet selling over 14 million copies, although it is reported by some sources as being closer to 20 million copies. The iconic cover shot, which also appeared on a famous edition of Rolling Stone, would show a growing sexual maturity. The first single “That’s The Way Love Goes” was a much more sensual groove hitting number one in the US for eight weeks and number two in the UK. Watch out for an early appearance by Jennifer Lopez in the video!
The follow up single “If” with its amazing and innovative video, again directed by Dominic Sena, would hit number 4 in the US, but missing the top ten in the UK (number 14). If this suggested Janet’s success was on the wane in the UK this was mistaken. Perhaps the fusion of genres was just too ahead of its time for UK ears.
Janet would slow things down with the ballad “Again” from ‘Poetic Justice’. Although the film was not a huge commercial hit Janet’s performance was acclaimed, and “Again” would hit the number one slot in the US selling a million copies and number six in the UK. It’s a sweet song and video, if somewhat sentimental.
“Because Of Love” is not an especially memorable song, but nevertheless hit the top ten in the US and number 19 in the UK and the travelogue video featuring scenes from the tour is fun, although again not especially memorable. Janet would slow things down again for the fifth single with the sexual “Anytime Anyplace” which would hit the number two spot in the US and number 13 in the UK.
Janet would follow up with the sixth single “You Want This” which is a firm favourite with me, again with a great video filmed in the desert with a black and white and colourised version released. It hit number 8 in the US and number 14 in the UK. The addition of a guest rap from MC Lyte was an extra treat, even for my ears which tend to avoid rapping.
One of my least favourite Janet songs, which I view as a novelty hit, was a hidden track on the album, and would prove to be a massive hit in the UK a full two years after the first single off the album. “Whoops Now” would inexplicably hit number 9 in the UK, hanging around for weeks, and was a hit across Europe. The single was a double A-side with the more listenable “What I’ll Do”. The US was spared the release of this single. The success of the single would help the remix album, “Janet Remixed” hit number 15 in the UK.
After the massive success of “Janet” more success would follow. Janet would release the duet “Scream” with her brother Michael in 1995 hitting he top ten across the world. The video cost a cool 7 million dollars and still looks as good today as it did then. The single perhaps could be viewed as under performing in the US by not reaching the top spot (peaking at number 5).
Janet would return to A&M for her first greatest hits “Design Of A Decade” in 1995. Whilst the album only included one track from “Janet” it was nevertheless a huge success hitting the number two spot in the UK and number 3 in the US. The album was helped by a couple of new tracks ”Runaway” and “Twenty Foreplay” as well as the remix of “The Best Things In Life Are Free”.
The album would sell ten million copies worldwide. Janet would then renew her contact with Virgin, but it would be 1997 before we heard the results. Janet needed a break after a busy couple of years and after the enormous success of “Janet” and “Design Of A Decade”. Who could begrudge her a bit of a rest!
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